When you can't live without bananas

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Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Young Republic picture:

In this scene from A Clockwork Orange, he's been arrested and he's being re-educated through aversion therapy.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Why Wi-Fi 'theft' should be decriminalised

I REFER to the letters by Mr Biala Sameer ('Wi-Fi thief violated rights of subscriber, ISP'; ST, Dec 25) and Mr Karl Hinchliffe ('Can using free Wi-Fi bandwidth be a crime?'; ST, Dec 22) regarding the case of Wi-Fi piggybacking.

I do not think Garyl Tan should be held liable for using the Wi-Fi network of another subscriber, but it is important to clarify the reason for this. The reason is not that it is harmless in most cases, nor is it that the subscriber would not even realise this piggybacking is taking place.

The key point is that the broadband subscriber had chosen to project the broadband access that he had purchased into public space.

The ISP provided broadband access to a point within the subscriber's home. With a conventional wired network, there is no way of accessing this without intruding into the subscriber's home and this would indeed be criminal.

However, by purchasing Wi-Fi routers and powering it up, the subscriber had, in effect, laid 'virtual cables' - by means of radio frequency - into the public domain, as far as his coverage zone extends.

The reasonable assumption is that he didn't mind others sharing some of the bandwidth. Why should the user who accepts this 'charity' be held criminally responsible?

The situation is different from burglary where the user intrudes into private property. If the Wi-Fi network had been secured and somebody hacked into it, then it would indeed be a case of intrusion and should be prosecuted.

There should be a distinction between illegal intrusion by a user and acceptable consumption of property projected into public space by a subscriber. The law should be changed to decriminalise the latter.

Liu Feng-Yuan

Addendum: Also see the views expressed on Brown's blog.

Friday, December 29, 2006

"If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?" - Vince Lombardi


One of the bullshit arguments the PSC microchip comes up with is that those on whom scrutiny would naturally fall due to their being in a position to profit from improper influence should be subject to the same standards as normal people. Of course, this holds no salt elsewhere, ergo corporate disclosure; lucky draws and contests not being open to employees of the companies involved and their family members; campaign finance issues and scandals involving the peddling of political influence.

Hell, even in the SAF, the White Horse system, officially at least, discriminated against those who were judged to be in a position to benefit from undue influence.

At this point, the PSC microchip, since it has defended the White Horse system in the past, would probably short circuit, or come up with an even more ridiculous fudge to justify the double standards of double standards. But then, this has always been the land of queer logic, in certain spheres at least.

I'd like to see the PSC microchip justify Yukos expropriation and other Russian shenanigans. Given what it has accomplished so far (eg suggesting that the Chairman of the Fed is not independent and that using the machinery of the state to imprison your political opponents is not wrong), it would not be difficult.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

"I never lecture, not because I am shy or a bad speaker, but simply because I detest the sort of people who go to lectures and don't want to meet them." - H. L. Mencken


Someone: She's my girlfriend. How can she be frigid?... We've never had sex... Both of us are still virgins. Virgin as in carnal intercourse virgins.

Someone else: hrrm. soc is a really, really, really bad place to find girls.
i'm still looking for ones which speak english

Me: hahahahahaha
all prcs and viets ah

Someone else: even the local ones here are really cheena
i stick out like a sore thumb

Me: arts has SACSALs also

Someone else: alright. i shall drop by or smth
man. sometimes it really sucks to be at soc

the socians are already desperate :)

i also realise i'm not doing anything to meet more females, apart from becoming more weird
girls are not found in computing, games, or by the seashore fishing :)

Me: join an eca
do cross fac modules

Someone else: my eca is the *** :)
there is a grand total of 1 girl in there

*** is also heavily male dominated
so is the nus ***

Someone: it's interesting how when friends take your side they dont ever say you go overboard even if you have?

Me: yeah true friends make you face brutality :P
which is one reason why I don't ***
I don't lie well

Someone: see that's exactly why i like you
can you just not lie
it is so annoying

Me: what women say they want, what women think they want and what women really want aren't always the same.

Someone: in this case it is

Me: hurr hurr

Someone else: u noe why gals hv this compulsive need to cocktease and/ or lead guys on right?

who the guy is is immaterial... he's just *there*, a convenient tool, like available and everything

we need to feel wanted, attention-worthy

many guys dunno this
or at least they behave lk they hv no clue

Someone: It seems all the adults i know have their sob stories

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

July trip
29/7 - Utrecht

I'm sure that English education in the Netherlands isn't as screwy as Chinese education in Singapore, where even PRCs complain about having to memorise the ci yu shou ce (vocabulary list), and the lure of popular [American] culture is an additional impetus. Yet even the Dutch, despite being the most English-literate people in Continental Europe, are not effectively bilingual; their English is a bit off sometimes, when they use the wrong word, can't find a suitable word or use grammar that is off.

Despite having tried it once, I wondered why the Walls Swirl was so popular. I always saw people in the long queuing for it at the railway station. At €2,80-€3 for just a blend of soft serve ice cream and fruit, I'd rather go for a BJ (€2).

Angel (?) in shop window

There was a funny tea ('New enviga the calvie buner' (?)) selling at €2 for 330ml. Other drinks were on sale at €0,70 for the same. The selling point of this was that green tea burned fat. Right.

I saw an old couple sharing a 3-wheeled buggy meant for one - the woman was lying in the man's lap. Heh.

I'd dawdled too much on Friday and Saturday so I had no time to finish off all the museums I wanted to do, so I had to skip the Railway museum (I had a feeling the exhibits were all in Dutch anyway). First I went to see what was new at the Centraal Museum.

There was a really strange exhibit at the Centraal Museum, with a photo of an event titled 'Peace intervention' by Lucy Orta, held at the V&A in London on 25/05/04. People were dressed in strange suits.

Skin lightening cream, featuring black people on the box
This was in a special exhibition on American culture ('This is America'). At first I thought it was real but on reflection I think it should be culture.

Tom Sachs, Prada Value Meal, 1998

I'd booked a tour for the Rietveld Schröder House, which left in a minivan from the Centraal Museum, but the other 4 people didn't show up, so it looked as if it'd be a private tour. However when we arrived at the location we met them - they didn't know the tour left from the museum, rather than starting at the house itself. It turned out that they were Spanish exchange students, and finishing up Utrecht after a summer of travelling.

Since the house was a world treasure, we had to wear blue plastic covers over our shoes (scrubs?), and the guide wore gloves when touching things.

The house used to be at the city boundary, and the current motorway beside it (on the other side of which is University College Utrecht) didn't exist at the time. So from the house you could see to the horizon.

When the house was built, most people had no bathroom at home, and bathed in bath houses. So the inclusion of a bathroom was quite novel, another way of showing off Mrs Schröder's wealth.

Electricity in entrance hall
9 electric plugs, set on marble. Only 3 are functional, 6 are for show.
At this point the guide remembered that he was supposed to tell us that photography of the inside was forbidden. Gah.

40% of the cost of the house was spent on installing central heating, with specially made radiators. Interestingly, even in 1965 not all houses had central heating.

Mrs Schröder was claustrophobic (?) so the house was designed such that on the ground floor, one could exit it immediately from any room and not just the main entrance. There was one room in the very centre where this didn't work though.

One novel aspect of the house's design was that though the kitchen door was mostly painted white, it had a black handle so one could close it with dirty hands without having to clean up. Even more ingeniously, it had a large black L painted on its surface, corresponding with the area on the door's side or bottom you'd kick on to close it when your hands were full.

The area around the stove was also black.

Mrs Schröder didn't like curtains. So to keep out the sun there were little wooden shutters which could pop into the windows. These were painted black on the side facing the outside, and grey on the reverse so as to fit into the house's internal colour scheme.

For times when no one was home, the kitchen window could be left open so people could make deliveries by placing items on a shelf, without worrying about crime.

It was very cool underground in the cellar. Now I know why you can keep your food/wine there even in summer. During a normal summer, of course, and not this year's freaky summer.

About this time, people started knocking on the doors/windows of the house and asking if they could enter, which pissed off the guide since people kept doing that. I pointed out that there was no sign outside the house stating that one had to join a tour from the Centraal Museum.

Interestingly enough, there was a study for Rietveld even though it was Schröder's house. Of course, this was because she was his muse (read: they were having an affair).

The tables in the house could fold into the wall to create more space.

Finishing the ground floor, we then ascended.

The staircase had a semi-automatic sliding door. pull wood block down. weight pull rope, door slide open (I think my notes are mixed up here and it's supposed to mean that the mechanism was set by pulling a wooden block down and releasing the mechanism would slide the door in one direction).

The first (second) floor of the house was one big space which could be subdivided into sections but also opened up in the day when people weren't sleeping. To get around planning regulations, they had to call the first floor an attic.

The little details were impressive. For example, the window sill could be flipped up to support the window, and flipped down when the window was slid out. From the little details, the guide commented, one could tell that Rietveld was a carpenter and not an architect. Hah!


The Procuress. I thought this was a dup but I liked it so much I took it anyway. Lucky for me that I did, since I can't find it in the March collection. Anyhow the madame who is the subject of the painting is a madam who procures flesh (at first I thought she was marketing herself).
"It is the procuress' (sic) job to arrange 'love for money' by bringing men in contact with women of questionable repute [Ed: Doesn't that make them men of questionable repute?].With her colourful clothing, her cleavage and the feathers in her hair, she is easy to distinguish fro mthe average citizen. The feathers are a reference to her wanton character. The lute, which she is holding by the neck, had a clear sexual connotation in the seventeenth century. The dramatic, though natural, play of light that Caravaggio liked to use inspired Honthorst to paint scenes using artificial light. Scenes set a (sic) night and illuminated by a single candle were the speciality of Gherardo delle Notte, as the Romans admiringly called him."

There was a stupid video on consumerism: Donna Conlon - 'Give me more', 2005. It had a woman opening a big plastic big, only to find a plastic bag inside almost as big. Inside that bag was another plastic bag slightly smaller and like a series of Russian dolls this continued until she found a tiny plastic bag in the centre which presumably contained nothing. I can't believe I sat down to watch the whole sequence.

Martin le Chevallier's The Butterfly ('Le Papillon'), 2005 made absolutely no sense. I don't even know how to describe it. It was basically a guy doing random things, and random things happening to him. There wasn't the least connection between each bit.

One person's installation artpiece was a shop sign from Baghdad. Wth. Like that also can. In other jurisdictions this would be called theft of property, not art.

I had another serving of frites speciaal at Hank's (only freshly made fries can be that moist inside), and noticed that it was promoted as "Gebakken in zuiver plant aardige arachide olie". (translate)

Lastly I went to the musical gadgets museum for the exhibition Royal Music Machines (50 of the most beautiful [and expensive] musical gadgets created for Royalty, to celebrate 50 years of the museum's existence), which was ending the next day (when I would fly off). I didn't have time for lunch, so I had some munchies from the market. Unfortunately, even after skipping lunch I didn't have time to explore the permanent collection, reaching the museum just about in time for the tour of the special exhibition. Ah well, if I ever return to Utrecht I can view the permanent collection, which incidentally has 28/50 of the machines used in the exhibit.

Elephant Clock, attr. James Cox, 1780

There was a 'Steinway duo alt [?]', a piano which could reproduce the playing of famous pianists, complete with dynamics, tempo and pedals.

Polyphon disc musical movement, 1900

Photography was allowed in the permanent exhibition but not the special one because they didn't have photographic rights for the loaned objects. This must be why special exhibitions never allow photography. The advantage of the tour was that the staff would activate the machines for you to hear, but when there wasn't a tour there was no one to enforce the no photography rule. Heh.

There was a rhinocerous clock from the Forbidden City museum in Beijing (attr James Cox, 1730). 2 exist, because it was considered bad luck to give the Chinese gifts singly, so they had to make a copy. They would've played the rhino clock for us, but the day before the exhibition opened, 5 of the best clockmakers in the world came, removed the head of the rhino and tinkered for 2 hours. It worked for a grand total of 1 1/2 times, and then stopped.

There was a 1793 Haydn-Niemecz organ clock (based on the music box principle, but opening organ pipes instead of striking metal pieces). It could play 29 notes at a time, so Haydn was not limited to 10 fingers and 2 feet. Guide on the tool used to start the machine: 'This was used by Haydn himself. That's why I'm using these gloves. So my touch [sic] will not touch Haydn's sweat.'

There was also an automatic spinet - a harpsichord music box.

There was a Clay clock from 1738 whose twin was at Kensington palace. George IV couldn't stand the music and ticking, so he had the mechanism thrown out. Uhh. So when the guide came to it, she played a CD of the music, a Handel arrangement for the clock.

The reason why clocks play a melody before the number of bells for the hour is struck is to alert you so you can keep quiet and attentive, and listen for the time.

There were the remains of one c. 1590 clock owned by Christian I of Saxony. Its tale was very sad. During World War II, Dresden was going to be bombed so it was shipped out on a truck with other art. As luck would have it, the truck was hit by an incendiary bomb and most of the artworks on the truck were lost.

There was a c. 1780 clock by Torkler. It had fluid crystal rods which rotated. Some of the rods represented a fountain (those rotating up) and some represented a waterfall (those rotating down). It belonged to the Hermitage in St Petersburg, but the experts there don't let it be played because the musical gadget experts are all in this museum. So the exhibition was the only time it was played and will be played in a long time.

Rudolf II of Hapsburg was the largest art collector in the world after Napoleon.

There was a 1995 replica of a cannon-shooting vessel called the 'schietend ship'. It had a cannon, out of which came flame and a loud bang. The guide couldn't demonstrate this since it needed a gunpowder license, so for the opening ceremony they got someone with one to demonstrate it (in front of the Queen, IIRC). So she got us to say "bang" (...)

At the end of the tour (which coincidentally was 50 minutes) the guide ran off. I think she wanted to go home. So we got one of the fringe benefits of going on a late tour.

'La joueuse de Tympanon'. 1784 Marie Antoinette doll playing the keyboard. It breathes and looks around.

'La Musicienne', 1774 Android.

There was a shop selling men's clothes called 'Special basics sissy - boy'. Why do men shop there?

I saw 2 of the guys in ambulance trolley beds whom I'd seen a few months back. This time both were topless. 1 had removed the sheepskin on top of the trolley bed, and the other had rolled it back to his feet. They were talking to 1 guy on a wheelchair which was operated by the guy's rotating a double-handled bar in front of him. I don't know what the attraction of the trolley beds is - a wheelchair would be much more comfortable.

'Voor de streep geen staamplaatsen' check

I saw an inflatable pool on a sidewalk and 2 pre-pubescent girls were in it. Uhh.

I then went back to the houseboats area. As my Dutch friend commented, although no one lives there you always see a lot of cars parked by the road side. In keeping with this wonderful country, on the other bank of the river is a residential area.

Rode brug
The red bridge itself, downstream (upstream?) from the houseboats.

Most of the girls were in bikinis or swimwear, whereas in Amsterdam they're all in lingerie. I thought maybe they wanted to go swimming, but I didn't see anyone in the water and besides the river stank. Maybe it's a inter-city cultural difference thing.

The houseboats all had windows, so it was like window prostitution in Amsterdam - except that it was hot so almost everyone was at the door or outside. Many windows had stickers reading "NL" - maybe they were proud of being local talent (most of them looked Dutch), and this is where people sick of foreign talent went. Some windows had a sign reading 'Geen toegang onder de 16 jaar' (no entrance for those under 16 - OTOH the ladies must be 18; I wonder how many laddies visit), and one door had a sign for 'eerste hulp' (first aid) - this must be where people go when things are too exciting and they get injured. One window had an orange feather boa - how patriotic! The most bizarre was one window which read "No money onboard - no change". So how do people pay? Credit card? PIN [direct debit]? Chipknip [smart card]? So high tech.

It was very funny because vehicles were being driven down the lane parallel to the line of houseboats. Men, mostly alone in cars (but some in pairs), were driving down the lane extremely slowly and peering at the boats. Some looked very bored.

I considered asking some of the ladies if they'd let me pull their hair for €1 (one has to adjust for price level differences). I was quite sure they wouldn't call me shen jing bing, since they'd surely heard it all.

The boats were evenly numbered from 102 to 160, so that means there were 30 of them. Each had 5 compartments, so that makes for a maximum capacity of 150.

From inside one boat I heard a sound like a dentist's drill. Maybe someone was having Vandersexxx (sp). I hope he remembered the safe word.

Finishing my walk down the stretch, I found that at both ends of the road there was a roundabout. The number of cars going round the roundabout was really quite amazing.

Roundabout (at the start of the stretch)
I assiduously waited till it was clear of cars, since I didn't want anyone coming to beat me up.

On the way back I saw the bridge being sprayed with water continuously with pipes, since it was too hot.

One windsock tudung woman's chest was exposed and I saw the start of her valley. Gah.

There was a sign for 'schoolparty.nl'. But I thought they don't wear uniforms? (check)

There was a Jap restaurant called 'konnichi wa'. This must be the most stupid name ever.

It sounds like over-regulation is the cause of the property shortage in Utrecht. Hmm.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

July trip
28/7 - Utrecht

I went to visit the Dom (Cathedral) one last time.







Tower from cloisters

Statue - Jan Van Nassau

Academiegebouw - a University building

It was Friday, the least busy market day, so I also went there to have my favourite frites for the next-to-last time.

De Lekkerste Frites Van Nederland

As I told him, "Your frites are 'de lekkerste in Nederland'" (I got the grammar wrong, as you can tell [the right version is above] but after all it's the thought that counts)


Hank's verse zelfgemaakte Friet

Painted on tank tops at the market: Bodybeeld - het menselijk lichaan ontleed (Babelfish translates this as "Bodybeeld - the human lichaan analysed")
Product: "Schaamteloos" (Translated as "Shameless" - I think this was the brand of the tank tops)

Weird poster
I googled it and voila: Guerrilla Girls: New York Times article 2004
"Then there's the poster promoting a fictional movie, "The Birth of Feminism," with Pamela Anderson as Gloria Steinem (who, according to Ms. Kahlo, initially thought the poster was real), Halle Berry as Flo Kennedy and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Bella Abzug. "It's just like when we started in the art world, we've had a tremendous outpouring from women filmmakers of all sorts, because they feel afraid to speak up. They are not crazy rabble-rouser troublemakers and stealth bombers the way we are," Ms. Kollwitz said."

I then went to the University museum to see what was new.

Some weird paint-on bra thing. Your guess is as good as mine.

Can anyone identify this?

This is the first time I've seen a warning sign regarding snails. Seen in the University museum garden.

The garden was apparently home to the oldest ginkgo in Europe. My attempts at finding it were in vain though.

Ginkgo patch
If you see the ginkgo, do tell me.

There was a section of "Vrouwenkruiden", litterally "herbs for women". I see political correctness hasn't manage to contaminate them yet.

First snails, then frogs. When it rains it pours.

There was also a lot of rhododendrons in the garden.

Hydrangenmacrophylla ev (?)

At the St Nicolaas church they had a bulletin entitled 'Is Bush heilig?' (Is Bush holy?) Heh. Unfortunately the church itself wasn't as interesting - the onlynovel bit was that the Gothic aisles at the side were as high as the nave.

Houses along Lange neiuwstraat

There was a joint named 'Sexshop de Dom' down the street from the cathedral. For some reason this was the first time I'd seen this seditious shop with a name cunningly chosen to provoke religious riots.

I'd never seen so many packets of Celestial Seasonings teas before.

I was quite sure there were fewer women in tudungs in July (during the heatwave) than before. Even if they wore it, they tied it looser. For example one woman had hers drooping so low I could see her neck. One compromise option some chose was to switch to a cap covering the hair, with the fabric trailing behind them like a windsock. Tsk.

Above the bus door: 'Piepsignaal: deur sluit!' (Translation: When there's a beeping sound, it means the door is closing) Gah. I didn't know there was onomatopoeia in Dutch too.

De Rode Brug boats

The Dutch friend I left my baggage with lived near the infamous river with prostitutes on houseboats. As with Amsterdam, direct photography was unwelcome but I got this indirect shot. I didn't have enough time to explore the stretch this day, but I returned the next.

My former housemate had returned so I didn't have to pay for that night's sleep. Since I'd retrieved my laptop I could also discover that the French bastard in Nimes hadn't burnt all my photos onto the disc (for newer readers, my Bruges, Antwerp and some Rome photos got lost). For €5 I got this kind of shit. I should just have shelled out for a 1 gb card!
A Boxing Day message from The Associate, who refuses to upgrade to the new Blogger because he's lazy:

Wah lao starhub has the most fucked up service conceivable. Wait 1.5hrs before anyone answers. Cannot fix date of cancellation. Cannot change correspondence address. Stupid service person cannot even tell me how/if/when my deposit will be refunded. This is the price consumers pay for being captive consumers to an economically efficienty, monopolistic economy-of-scale service provider!!!!

No other service provider (IRAS, SP Power, Singtel, Prudential, etc) gave me this kind of hassle!

Which of these do you think is an ideal Sithmas gift?

· A double bladed lightsaber
· Absolute power over the Galaxy
· Force lightning lessons
· A Gift Certificate for a Force Choke of your Enemy
· An Imperial cruiser
· A Death Star
· A modified TIE fighter

why i treat jiekai the way i do:

"...indiscriminate compassion weakens the benefactors by disallowing them the mental and physical enrichment that life's challenges inherently procure. Ultimately, such compassion thus weakens the very people it is intended to help, cheapening their experience and leaving them more ill-prepared for dealing with things on their own."

Two there should be; no more, no less. One to embody power, the other to crave it

"It is such a quiet thing, to fall. But far more terrible is to admit it."
"You can pretend to be serious; you can't pretend to be witty." - Sacha Guitry


[Ed: Dups removed thanks to Guofeng]

HONG KONG: 'Flash mob rape' message man guilty - "A District Court judge yesterday found a married man guilty of outraging public decency after he posted online invitations to a gang rape, even though he had no real intent to commit the attack. In the first prosecution of its kind, Johnny Chan Sek-ming, 42, was convicted of the offence, which carries a maximum jail term of seven years... The judge ruled that Chan did not intend to gang-rape a woman but said the postings were "outrageous and disgusting". "I cannot ignore the possibility that the defendant is some kind of facetious person," the judge said, adding that a lot of internet users posted messages just to arouse "various fanciful discussions"."

Has the 'SpamThru' Trojan Doubled Spam or Not? - "Richi Jennings is a London-based analyst for Ferris Research, which publishes reports on corporate messaging from its headquarters in San Francisco. "More spam is reaching the inbox," he says, "so naive commentators wrongly assume that a doubling of spam in the inbox equals a doubling of spam on the Internet.""

Jerusalem Syndrome - "The malady called Jerusalem Syndrome is no joke. Afflicted tourists have been found wandering in the Judean desert wrapped in hotel bed sheets or crouched at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, waiting to birth the infant Jesus... We have a little third group, the REAL Jerusalem syndrome. Completely sane persons without psychiatric history, without drugs, and arrive here as normal tourists. Here they develop this specific, imperative psychotic reaction that is the real Jerusalem Syndrome."
They've been touched by the Holy Spirit!

PowerPoint Presentations: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - "It can actually impede attention. Military analysts conjecture that recent appropriations from Capitol Hill have stalled because Congress cannot decipher the Army’s complex and tedious slides (WSJ, April 26, 2000)."

The Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation - "Good morning. Just a second while I get this connection to work. Do I press this button here? Function-F7? No, that's not right. Hmmm. Maybe I'll have to reboot. Hold on a minute. Um, my name is Abe Lincoln and I'm your president. While we're waiting, I want to thank Judge David Wills, chairman of the committee supervising the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery. It's great to be here, Dave, and you and the committee are doing a great job. Gee, sometimes this new technology does have glitches, but we couldn't live without it, could we? Oh - is it ready? OK, here we go:"

United States Patent Application: 0050156873 - "Methods and devices for creating and transferring custom emoticons allow a user to adopt an arbitrary image as an emoticon, which can then be represented by a character sequence in real-time communication."
This is ridiculous (M$ patenting custom emoticons)

Lindows and high-tech trademark troubles - "Among other things, he noted that the press used the word "windows" to describe a graphical user interface for personal computers even before Microsoft launched the first version of its current operating system--and that it continues to use the term generically today. He said that a dictionary definition of "windows" matches the way it is being used by Lindows.com. And he pointed out that hundreds of other products in the computer industry include the word "windows" or variations of it."
Microsoft ended up paying $24 million to Lindows for a suit it brought. Hurr hurr.

Games People Play: NIGYSOB - "Life Game 4: Now I've Got You, You Son of a Bitch. This can be seen in classic form in poker games. White gets an unbeatable hand, such as four aces. At this point, if he is a NIGYSOB player, he is more interested in the fact that Black is completely at his mercy than he is in good poker or making money."

The Atheist Delusion. a pisspoor presentation - "God is real. And he's unbelievable."
Atheist Delusion 2: Deluded Mailbag is even funnier.

Italy pact to stop skinny models - "Italy's fashion industry and the government have pledged to abide by a voluntary code of conduct which aims to keep unhealthy models from the catwalk. According to the code, models must provide a medical certificate proving they do not suffer eating disorders. The code also bans the use of models aged under 16 and urges the use of larger-sized models... In September, Spain banned models with a body mass index of less than 18 from taking part in Madrid's fashion week."

China Travel Service - China Tour - tailor-made china tour: The UNESCO-World Heritage Tour - Wah, so discerning.

YouTube - LEAKED ACJC Orientation 2007 MASS DANCE - The comments are simply ridiculous. Why can't they just enjoy the video instead of coming up with conspiracy theories? Must be because of the school holidays.

YouTube - Tom Shillue: I'm an Artist - "I'm an artist. I see things you don't see. Because I was born with a superior aura... I'm an artist. I see the world in an artistic way. Because I have a lot of time to think. Because I don't have a job... You see I'm much more misogynistic than any Construction Worker or banker who works on Wall Street, I don't wash my clothes so women assume I'm sensitive"

The purr-fect companion - "Which could go some way to explaining the longstanding male antipathy towards cats. Even in the context of a relationship, there always seems to be an awful lot of moaning about the slightly 'fragrant' litter trays, or 'the murderous way that thing looks at me'. In centuries gone by, they burnt women as witches for liking cats. Now single female cat lovers are simply branded 'on the shelf' as they float by in the supermarket, with their trolleys full of Sheba. Though admittedly, there does tend to be a slight thawing in male-feline relations when actresses such as Halle Berry and Michelle Pfeiffer dress up in tight rubber catsuits (one wonders why)."
I wonder how loud the shrieks and the calls for resignation would be if a guy wrote an article about why some guys prefer dogs to women.

The man who unboiled an egg - "Over the years, his musings on chemical reactions have led to a number of discoveries. He has worked out how to uncook an egg. He has calculated that you can produce 24 litres of mayonnaise with a single yolk. He has invented a Béarnaise sauce by replacing butter with melted chocolate, as well as 'chocolate chantilly' (a form of whipped chocolate prepared in the same way as crème chantilly). He's baked an egg for an hour at 55°C, managing somehow to leave the yolk 'exceptionally smooth and tender'."

Green light for kosher crossings - "Australia's first kosher pedestrian crossings will feature hi-tech detection sensors, allowing Orthodox Jews to cross busy Sydney streets safely during the Sabbath... Pressing a button on the Sabbath - the period of rest between sunset on Friday and sunset on Saturday - is considered a breach of religious law by Orthodox Jews. This has created safety fears as members of eastern Sydney's large Orthodox community dodge traffic on the way to and from local synagogues... Orthodox teaching bans work during the Sabbath, which would include the use of an electrical device to change a traffic signal. He said the compromise solution's compliance with religious law could depend on whether it worked with infra-red motion sensors or with heat sensors. "
Can they use the toilet on the Sabbath? If an Orthodox Jew becomes a slave in Singapore, he's sure to go DB. This must be why in Israel Ultra-Orthodox Jews are exempted from conscription - it's too much trouble accommodating them. And maybe if a war falls on the Sabbath they'll be gunned down since they can't "work". And it's such a pity. There go potential Darwin Awards. Why doesn't Singapore highlight this in the quest for religious harmony?

YouTube - Puppets Audition for Wizard of Oz - This guy is good.

Climate Control in the Singapore press - "Walls may not have ears in Singapore, but many locals aren't fully convinced they don't. And so they've affected this curious idiosyncrasy, which I call the Singapore Swivel. I've seen it constantly in the two years I've been based here. It happens when discussions graduate from small talk to opinions. The interviewee goes "off-the-record", the voice lowers to a whisper, and the head slowly turns left-right-left-centre, scanning the location, checking who's within earshot. The Swivel speaks to the probably unfounded suspicion that the "wired island" is monitoring your activities... The Government says it is committed to openness and airing contrary views. But the message seems to be taking its time to sink in at the ST... In early 1999, Lee Kuan Yew wished to The Wall Street Journal that someone would invent air-conditioned underwear – because that way "everyone can then work at his optimum temperature and civilisation can spread across all climates". A news editor on a mainstream Australian newspaper might hand the item to a wry columnist. The medical writer might consult some physicians as to whether the nation was in good hands. And the science writer might ring boffins to see if boreal boxers were possible. Not at the ST, which ran it as a straight story on page one. A month later, it published a 1455-word feature quoting local academics and engineers hot for the idea – with an illustration of how a "cold suit" might work."

Maintaining ethno-religious harmony in Singapore - "In a highly critical article, Haas (1989) charged that the Singapore government has confused political freedom with subversion and leftish leanings with Communism, that there was no basis to prove that Cheng and his cohorts were Marxists nor were there any plot to overthrow the government. Haas also argued that the government's theory of "Nip in the bud" was a dangerous way of viewing social events. He said "to analogize politics to the biological determinism of a bud opening into a flower or the growth of cancer is to espouse an organismic theory of politics, long discredited .... (Haas, 1989: 68). He further argued that to wrest without trial under the Internal Security Act goes against the very grain of what the PAP government had fought for in the fifties against the British colonial rule. In 1955 when the British colonial administrators enacted the Internal Security Act, Lee Kuan Yew spoke against it... 'We say we dislike communism because, under that form of government, they have arbitrary powers of arrest and detention without trial.... ... to curtail a fundamental liberty, and the most fundamental of them all -- freedom from arrest and punishment without having violated a specific provision of the law and being convicted for it.. But no man should be deprived of his liberty'"

Monday, December 25, 2006

"Philosophers say a great deal about what is absolutely necessary for science, and it is always, so far as one can see, rather naive, and probably wrong." - Richard Feynman


A Google search reveals that the lyrics of "Boob Job for Christmas" are also in a PDF called Beaver Valley Christmas, a play featuring songs like "Walkin Round in Women's Underwear", "I came across a Roadkill Deer" and other similar songs. I'm quite sure the lyrics were taken from my blog, since they didn't exist online when I put them up. Ah, spreading Christmas cheer is so rewarding!

I was checking something for someone and it seems the sex ratio has moved in men's favor recently. Data till 2004 shows there's a lot of Chinese and "Others" females, and a lot of Indian males. The overall mid-year estimate for 2006 shows that the sex ratio has plummeted further recently.

There's a book by H. E. Wilson called Social Engineering in Singapore: Educational Policies and Social Change, 1819-1972. Haha.

Someone put a finger on what's wrong with business bullshit. It sounds very good on paper but is almost impossible to apply. I would add that applying it often makes things worse than if it had not been applied.

A source tells me that a J3 said I was used as an example of a blogger in RJ GP lessons, together with Alex Au. Uhh.

Those who advocate abstinence because "protection is not infallible" and potential lives are at stake even if you take the morning after pill probably have no idea how insurance works. Driving is not 100% safe either, even if you are considerably more skilled than I am. Furthermore, the life of a grown person (or many grown persons, if others are in your vehicle) is worth infinitely more than that of a mere cluster of cells (ie a fertilised egg and the stages following).

People tell me that in university (or NUS at least), despite the rhetoric, blind memorisation can get you what thinking cannot, ie an A; whether blind memorisation is necessary, sufficient or both necessary and sufficient for this I have not ascertained. This is one reason I'm doing Economics.

Someone: blind memorisation can get you somewhere in PS that's for sure
the top student in PS is probably the best memorizer of quotes
he quotes from everyone in theory class
without really understanding the text as a whole

only PS in NUS...will memorization get you As
actually come to think of it...PS in UBC also requires a lot of rote memorization
but i think in Lit memory work might be comparatively less

MFTTW: blind memorization can get you lots of As in medicine.
they thrive on blind memorization and factual regurgitation
but of course you must be able to regurgitate at will and super quickly

Someone else: Hmm. Well at Oxford if you are clever enough you can certainly get a first simply by sheer hard work. But being clever certainly helps.
in subjects like history, yes. or at least, reading a lot of shit and remembering what you've read.

memorising large chunks of material and unleashing them appropriately is the main skill in history.

Someone (2): in marketing not really
finance, yes yes yes
unless u're a maths whiz, it helps t memorise stuff
"The only reason I made a commercial for American Express was to pay for my American Express bill." - Peter Ustinov


Christianity and Islam are the 2 religions which most often make the news with adherents protesting against blasphemy. The irony is that both religions feature founders who were persecuted for *their* blasphemy, but who were later vindicated by history (or rather by demographics) and have thus become the standard against which it is now blasphemous to deviate from. Viz., the events leading up to the Hijra.

For example, The Last Temptation of Christ was lambasted and Molotov Cocktail-ed when it first came out, but is now accepted by some as making a valid theological point:

"In his defense of the movie, noted critic Roger Ebert writes that Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader

"paid Christ the compliment of taking him and his message seriously, and they have made a film that does not turn him into a garish, emasculated image from a religious postcard. Here he is flesh and blood, struggling, questioning, asking himself and his father which is the right way, and finally, after great suffering, earning the right to say, on the cross, 'It is accomplished.'""

The persecuted have become the persecutors, but then this is how like groups that complain about the lack of freedom of speech then try to censor others' freedom once they come into power. Ditto for totalitarian laws and revolutionaries.
Elf Yourself: A Gift from OfficeMax

Sunday, December 24, 2006

An unnamed firm is evil. Buttercup rocks!
"The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletarian to the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeois." - Gustave Flaubert


On the Enlightenment: "The period was once thought of as a glorious chapter in the history of mankind, a time when the forces of light (science, progress and tolerance) triumphed over the forces of darkness (superstition and prejudice). Today, the Enlightenment tends to be dismissed. Post-modernists attack it for being biased, self-deluded and ultimately responsible for the worst in Western civilisation. Post-colonialists accuse it of being Eurocentric, an apology for imperialism. Nationalist historians reject the idea of a coherent universal movement, preferring to talk about the English, French, even Icelandic Enlightenments."

Straight Dope Staff Report: Are a country's foreign embassies an extension of its territory? - "Barry Carter and his coauthors, in their textbook on international law, say, "Contrary to popular belief, however, diplomatic mission and consular post properties are not extensions of the sending state's territory. Both in fact and in law, diplomatic premises are within the territory of the receiving state.""

The Straight Dope: Can playing with a Slinky change the channels on your TV set? - "Prior to the early 1980s, most TV remote controls communicated with the set via ultrasonic sound-- sound too high-pitched for the human ear to hear. Typically these devices worked by striking a series of metal bars with a tiny hammer. There was usually an audible click, but the frequencies that actually did the job were inaudible harmonics."

Payments for prison 'cold turkey' - "Nearly 200 prisoners and former inmates forced to stop taking drugs by going "cold turkey" are to receive payments... The claimants were bringing the action based on trespass, because they say they did not consent to the treatment, and for alleged clinical negligence."

The Straight Dope: What's the truth on trans fat? - Finally, a good readable summary. And Palm Oil makes an appearance too!

Pregnant Mary embarrasses Vatican - "It is the story of a young woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. The birth takes place against a dramatic background and makes its mark on history. The plot of The Nativity Story is familiar enough. But the parallels between the lives of the Virgin Mary and the teenage actress who plays her in the first feature film to be premiered at the Vatican are causing controversy. The Pope, upon whose doorstep the first showing takes place on Sunday, will not be attending. Nor will Keisha Castle-Hughes, the 16-year-old unmarried actress who plays Mary and who is expecting her first child in the spring."

Man stole car to keep date with sheriff - "A 26-year-old man whose bail conditions required him to report once a day to authorities in Rutland found himself in Woodstock last week with a broken-down car. So determined was he to keep his court-ordered appointment that he stole someone else's car, police said."

Think Tank Will Promote Thinking - "Concerned that the voice of science and secularism is growing ever fainter in the White House, on Capitol Hill and in culture, a group of prominent scientists and advocates of strict church-state separation yesterday announced formation of a Washington think tank designed to promote "rationalism" as the basis of public policy... "In the current climate there is an implicit, if demonstrably false, sense that if your actions are based on a belief in God you are good person, and if they are not you are a bad person," Krauss said. "We should be very concerned that our political system reinforces the notion that the more you pray for guidance, the better suited you are to govern.""

Atlanta police probe shooting of 88-year-old lady - "Chief Richard Pennington said that the FBI would investigate the death of the woman, Kathryn Johnston, who was killed after she fired at three officers who breached the door of her small house, with its green shutters and a wheelchair ramp... The events leading to the death of Johnston, whose photograph in news reports showed her with a cane and a birthday crown, began with a warrant stating that an unnamed informant had bought two bags of crack cocaine from a man at the house, near Vine City. The warrant was known as a no-knock, giving the police the authority to burst through the door without warning in order to prevent the destruction of drugs."
Looks like it's not just drugs that kill.

Drug 'doubles mental health risk' - "Smoking cannabis virtually doubles the risk of developing mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, researchers say. The New Zealand scientists said their study suggested this was probably due to chemical changes in the brain which resulted from smoking the drug. The study, published in the journal Addiction, followed over 1,000 people born in 1977 for 25 years."
They need to come up with new posters for marijuana. At least they'll make more sense than the current rubbish.
"Art is either plagiarism or revolution." - Paul Gauguin


Amusing letters (16th December issue):

SIR – Although I am now retired, I always made sure that I exposed my students to the ideas of Mr Friedman when I was a college professor of economics. Unfortunately, he had a narrow view of how monopolies come about and seemed to argue that they are only created by governments that hand out licences or quotas or some other type of market-entry restriction. Nothing could be further from the truth. As demand thresholds increase and firms enlarge through mergers and acquisitions to enjoy economies of scale and dominate global markets, the monopolisation of markets is obvious. Indeed, the real test for 21st century capitalism will be what to do with the global phenomenon of giant corporations with vast profits, higher executive compensation and the ever-increasing unequal distribution of income. In this regard, there will be a role for government and one that Professor Friedman missed.

David Enns
Cornwall, Canada

SIR – I found your article on the fashion for purity in America to be, well, quaint (“In praise of chastity”, November 18th). As an evangelical Christian man who, in keeping with his religious convictions, has remained chaste before marriage into his 40s, my experience with women, including Christian women, has been that they care not one jot about pairing with a spouse who is chaste. In fact, I have had a few instances where a chaste woman actually preferred a fellow to have a résumé, especially if he was a little older. It does not mean that an otherwise attractive buck-a-roo is taken out of the rodeo, but being chaste does not appear to move one from the runner-up category to the leader board. Christian guys go down in flames in the proverbial dating dogfight. Until women really care about their partner being chaste and use it as a criterion to select a spouse, the concept of chastity will remain drivel, fantasy and wishful thinking.

Fairfax, Virginia
"I phoned my dad to tell him I had stopped smoking. He called me a quitter." - Steven Pearl


Besides this person dressed like a British safari explorer (Khaki shorts, light brown safari shirt, hard bowl hat) and cross dressing stilt-walkers, there was an interesting area along Orchard Road tonight near the Heeren where appalling sexual exploitation was ongoing.

Olympus had booked an area to advertise their new range of cameras which were waterproof and splashproof. A dunking apparatus had been set up, with a girl in T-shirt and shorts sitting on a platform attached to a target and above a tank of water.

At no charge, people (whom I observed to be invariably men) got to throw 3 bean bags at the target. Hitting it would release a catch and the girl would be plunged into the water. After being soaked, she'd take some pictures to demonstrate that the camera still worked.

Seeing this, my heart went out to the poor helpless souls who were being exploited. Olympus was taking advantage of their weakness and profiting by it. With each wet jiggle this iniquity was perpetuated. Of course, this was no different from how, by means of the media, this group is daily exploited.

I am referring, of course, to the men, the girls being willing, informed parties to the transaction who came out of it enriched, while the former got distracted by the sight, being congenitally engineered to be prey to such exploitative means of persuasion, and thus persuaded to part with their money, and not always for much of a sight (not all jiggles are worth the same attention).

Saturday, December 23, 2006

"The wit makes fun of other persons; the satirist makes fun of the world; the humorist makes fun of himself." - James Thurber


From a Young Republic thread on gun control:

A: Your so-called "obvious" correlation is actually not so obvious. Where are these statistics, by the way? Here in the state of Maine, thousands of people - including children being taught by their parents - use firearms for hunting, practice and so forth daily, without any reports of casualties or school shootings. Seeing as prohibition creates a black market, with the result of state and criminals controlling all the firepower, I can see prohibitive regulation being responsible for a high crime rate. Would you consider pulling a robbery if you had the knowledge that many of the bystanders would be armed?

B: The NRA is fond of saying that only about 2% of fatal accidents are from firearms, and about 3% for children under 14. This sounds very low, but this translates into more than a thousand deaths across the US every year...

Anyway, to address your hypothetical: one might be deterred from breaking and entering a house if one thought the occupants were armed, but one would not be (additionally) deterred from robbery since bystanders are usually NOT armed (few sane people, even those who are in favour of gun ownership, carry guns with them everywhere they go). But even in the case of a break-in, the robbers might be counting on the fact that they are better armed and are more proficient in using their weapon. Also, most people have an instinctive aversion to killing/injuring other people (until the US military changed its firearm training to include psychological exercises to break down this instinctive inhibition, the shoot/kill ratio even in war -- cf. Vietnam -- was surprisingly low). Murderers and robbers are probably less inhibited in this respect than ordinary citizens.

Me: Or for example, take the case of a school or workplace shooting.

If one person brings guns to the school or workplace, no one else is
going to be armed (many [most?] workplaces have strict laws about
bringing in firearms).

Funny. Slaves in Singapore don't get these psychological exercises.

Friday, December 22, 2006

"I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation." - George Bernard Shaw


Someone said that if you think Singaporean girls are materialistic, overdress, bitchy, emotional and sexist, it's even worse in Hong Kong. Over there, there's no such thing as going Dutch - the guy always pays. You might as well pay upfront and get something, right? Hurr hurr.

Claiming that biology is simply chemistry, chemistry physics or physics maths is like claiming sociology or psychology are just biology or maths philosophy.

In a strip search you have to, if male, raise your scrotal sac and peel back your foreskin. If not, you have to lift your breasts to see what's underneath and spread your vaginal lips to see if there's a protruding object or string (what if it's a tampon?). Both genders must spread their buttock cheeks (see rationale for vagina check). Yeech. It turns out I know someone who's been strip searched in the past, and he said it wasn't a pleasant experience.

Since Halal beef is drained of its blood, it must be quite dry when cooked, especially in the form of prime rib and steak. This brainwave came to me in part because someone warned me not to try the beef steak at the pseudo-Western stall at work because it's very dry. Yet another point for the manifesto!

For some reason they sell condoms at the polyclinic.

What does it mean when you're detained at the President's Pleasure? It sounds quite scary.

Comment spam filters hate me. I suspect this is because they think my nick is garbage.

I saw a photo album of Law students called "SLUGS". Haha.

A story I was told: This woman had a baby and after taking a group photo, someone asked her how old the baby was. When she said it was 5 months old, she was told, "Oh you can start dieting now."

PR is full of girls. This is because men like women, women like women but nobody likes men.

Cognitive patterns perpetuating a criminal lifestyle: Blaming external sources, diverting attention by questioning motives of others, self centred, convincing people they're really a good person eg 'I'm loyal to friends', feeling lack of control over environment, lashing out to regain power, entitlement mentality and egocentricity, seeks short cuts to life's demands eg low tolerance for boredom, inconsistency in thought and behavior, easily distractable - This sounds like some people I know.

"I have now been a psychologist for 21 years, and one thing of which I am certain is that I have never - not even once - had to do in the profession what I needed to do to get an A in the introductory course, as well as some of the other courses" - Robert Sternberg, 1996
July Trip
27/7 - Vianden

The guidebook said the best bit of visiting Vianden was the view from the top of the hill, from which one could look down on the castle, but it was too hot, too long a walk and too steep, so I gave up.

There was going to be some medieval festival from 5-13 August. A pity I was going to miss it.

View of the Castle

Inside the castle, everything was in German, no surprise given the proximity to the border, and not everything was bilingual. Poor French. Poor me!



There were information panels on Ringpanzerhemd, Schildpanzer, Schuppenpanzer, Begittertes oder Benageltes Hend and Kettenpanzerhemd. I have just ascertained that these are the names, in German, of various types of chainmail.


Armour display

15th century Gothic ceramic

The Vianden castle started as a Late Roman fort and it was expanded many times over the years. Unfortunately the current edifice was heavily reconstructed recently as the place was ruined. The inside was also very sparsely decorated.

Courtyard on first (second) storey

View of Vianden through dirty castle window

*Obere Kapelle*
This picture seems to have gotten lost somewhere.

A movie ‘George and the Dragon’ was filmed in Vianden. Hmm.

Salle des Banquests

Wohnraum des Romanischen Donjong

Tapestries in Salles des Comtes:

The sacrifice of Lystra. After Raphael

Ulysses drops anchor at the Isle of Circe, after Vouet.

The auto-ISO option on my camera seems to almost always default to ISO 50. Bah.

Great Kitchen

The conquest of the ‘Fort des Tourelles’, 2nd half of 17th century.
ambussun guess
in what I sull? Sable a manger

54m deep well


Details of 'Celtic' amulets for sale at gift shop

View of castle

There were lots of auberges in Vianden, but they were all pricey establishments. The real auberge (at least the one I was looking for) was at the top of the hill. I bet the others were conveniently located along the way to the youth hostel to distract weak-willed travellers, most of whom'd give up after a seemingly endless uphill climb. No wonder you can only backpack in your early 20s.

A mere fraction of the journey I had to undertake to reach the hostel

I’m quite sure that low rents aren’t the only reason why most Youth Hostels are in the middle of nowhere or otherwise inaccessible – they only want people who really can’t afford more sanely-located accommodations.

Cloister, Trinitarian Monastery. 1248

Unlabelled carving

Unfortunately, the Trinitarian church itself was closed.

My huge backpack and the chairlift did not go well together, or I’d have gone on it. Too bad there was no place to put it. I’d have left it at the hostel, but I didn’t want to risk the door being locked and more importantly, at that time the chairlift didn’t seem worth 4 more steep, lengthy treks (1 to place my backpack in the hostel, 1 to come down to the chairlift, 1 to retrieve my backpack from the hostel and a last to return to the Gare).

I had lunch in a restaurant beside the chairlift, and a French radio station was playing. Before playing the song ‘I feel it in my fingers’, they had someone recite each line in English, and someone else translating it into French. Uhh. Maybe this is how they learn English.

While waiting for the bus to Ettelbruck (Vianden had no train station) I noticed that the Gare had one of the only free toilets in the Benelux. Amazing.

nefl. lux = germ

Despite both Italy and France requiring reservations for trains, queues are much shorter in the latter. Not only do they have more staff and machines, they're less stingy with manpower.

In Liege I saw an East Asian guy and a girl who looked Walloonese (check adjective). Wah.

I saw an androgynous man (short spiky hair, androgynous features and a slim build) wearing a pink shirt. I first saw the words 'Fuck the', and thought the last was 'government'. In fact, it was 'babysitter'.

In a very screwed up incident, due to a miscommunication with a former housemate, she waited an hour for me at Eindhoven to pass me her room key so I could stay there while she was at her boyfriend's (I was coming on a later train, 3 hours later). Meanwhile my Dutch line had run out of credit so I'd switched to the Singapore one, so she couldn't contact me. Although very angry, when I called her from Maastricht she later agreed to meet me at Helmond. When I arrived there, I called her and it turned out she had prepared for bed (at 9:15pm!) since she thought I wasn't coming (she grossly underestimated the travel time from Maastricht to Helmond). Since she had work the next day she couldn't come out to meet me and said I wouldn't be able to find the place even if she gave me the address. So in the end I went back to Utrecht and lodged in the same hostel (Strowis) I'd spent my first night in Utrecht in (I wanted to try another - B&B - but it was full).
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